Future-proofing your omnichannel payments strategy

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In today’s omnichannel world, consumers effortlessly switch between channels. They may see a product on social media, head over to the company’s website, then read reviews on a marketplace. If the product is currently out of stock, they might sign up to SMS alerts or an email newsletter to stay in contact with the company.

We have become so used to these multi-channel research and purchase journeys that we expect every brand we interact with to keep up with us. However, being able to deliver these experiences consistently and securely is another matter entirely.

Customers now contact organizations more frequently and through more channels, increasingly using multiple channels at the same time. Less inclined to wait, they want fast answers and are likely to have already tried to find them before they get in contact. According to Gartner, automated self-service will be the go-to user experience for customers seeking to get support and value from businesses by 2030. It is easy to see why, especially for simple queries. Would you rather be left waiting on hold to speak to a human agent or get an answer in seconds?

When it comes to paying for goods and services online, consumers are increasingly demanding quicker, seamless transactions. To stay competitive, contact centers need to offer frictionless billing and payment solutions. So it is unsurprising that payment security and customer data protection through PCI compliance are now more important than ever.

An evolving approach to contact centers

The delivery of customer service is at a crucial turning point. Companies with contact centers are transforming their operations with automation, AI, online contact center payments solutions, and a raft of new digital engagement and communication channels.

According to Accenture, 78% of consumers expect customer service and support to be faster, 58% expect more digital options for accessing service and support, and 55% expect companies to communicate and respond to them through their preferred channels. PwC’s recent 2023 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey highlighted that ‘it is vital for companies to connect with consumers higher up the purchasing process and address the point of decision’. The contact center plays a critical role in driving sales by supporting the ‘new omnichannel’ customer experience.

For brands that can deliver unified and frictionless omnichannel and round-the-clock customer experiences, the rewards can be huge. According to Aberdeen Group, companies that delivered strong customer engagement retained 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for those companies with weaker customer engagement.

Customer experience is fast moving ahead of pricing and product as the key competitive differentiator between brands. Here are five actionable tips for formulating a future-proof omnichannel strategy for your contact center.

1. Focus on reducing friction

As the lines between channels blur, customers expect to start a conversation in one channel and continue in another without skipping a beat. No longer tied to one single channel, they want answers to their current needs in a way that’s most convenient to them and they will utilize the widest choice of contact options to achieve their aims.

Similarly, consumers expect a seamless payments process that’s safe and secure. Frictionless payment systems offering consumer protection from potential fraudulent transactions are vital for busy call centers, and it goes without saying that PCI DSS compliance is a must.

Start by mapping every customer journey and developing customer-care approaches that promote integration across multiple channels. For example, you should be able to move a customer inquiry that starts on social media or email to web chat or a phone call seamlessly, transferring data across those channels. This eliminates any need for customers to repeat the same information several times across different channels and to numerous contact center agents. You should also be able to offer secure PCI DSS compliant payments that not only protect consumers but protect your organization from costly non-compliance fees or fines.

This all represents a big change for many contact centers. Fundamentally, it means moving away from siloed activities and interlinking different media sessions to stay connected with customers in every channel, and at every step of the consumer payment journey.

2. Empower your teams

Delivering true omnichannel service doesn’t just require omnichannel tools – it also needs omnichannel agents. According to Aberdeen Group, 85% of top omnichannel performers regularly train their customer care agents in handling omnichannel communications.

As contact centers evolve and add new channels, agents need to be appropriately trained and reskilled to confidently handle and toggle customer interactions across multiple channels. With many transactional calls moving to digital channels, interactions that are more complex will increasingly account for the largest share of voice calls to traditional call centers. Agents will also need to be trained to advise customers about payment card security and to offer reassurance that the call center follows payment card industry compliance rules.

Empowering your agents with accurate visibility of prior customer interactions and streamlined workflows, as well as the latest payment compliance best practice, will enable them to transition to a new way of working.

3. Unify your view of customers

Implementing digital-first communication channels and leveraging leading-edge technologies like AI-chatbots and digital payment wallets is just one side of the omnichannel equation. Brands also need to bridge the gap between their CRM, CCaaS systems and contact center processes to deliver a 360-degree view of customers and their journeys.

Providing service agents with a single integrated view of a customer’s previous interactions, including relevant and contextualized data and transactions, ensures they can appropriately deliver rapid and informed support. Organizations that lack this visibility struggle to support agile customer care. It’s a difficult balancing act that requires a ‘test, learn, adapt’ approach to crafting integrated live, digital, and human-based interactions into the customer journey.

4. Enable a ‘One-Stop-Shop’ culture

Customers shouldn’t have to switch channels to complete a task if they don’t want to. Having to stop the conversation in one channel and engage in another to make a payment is a sure-fire way to lose their current and future business. Solutions like Sycurio.Digital payment links make it easy to create and send secure PCI compliant payment links to customers in any digital channel (including chat, messaging, social media, apps and web-services, email and SMS) to deliver a truly unified customer experience.

5. Monitor and measure your efforts

Accurate call and transaction data is a potential source of deep insights that can be combined with data from other contact center systems and CRMs to analyze and improve call center performance. This real-time data enables management teams across the business to evaluate data on the percentage of successful payment transactions. They can then identify customer channel transaction preferences, peak times of day when customers are most likely to make PCI compliant payments, and even the optimal times to run campaigns with a payment call-to-action.

Get ready for what’s next…

Any effective omnichannel strategy needs clarity on where best to focus resources to optimize every individual touchpoint and understand the fast-evolving digital behaviors and preferences of customers. As self-service increasingly becomes the norm, the contact center can use other engagement approaches such as voice and AI-powered payment technologies. Streamlining online transactions using AI-chatbot payments will offer a fast, cost-effective, 24/7 solution that gives customers what they want while achieving higher operational efficiency.

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